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I never said I made First Class – Kachikwu

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has described as false and baseless report making rounds that he claimed graduating from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), with a First Class degree.

The minister made the clarification in a statement signed by the Director of Press in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Idang Alibi, in Abuja, on Thursday.

Alibi said at no time did Kachikwu claim that he graduated with a First Class from the UNN.

He said that the minister graduated from the institution with a ‘Second Class Honours (Upper Division) degree from the Faculty of Law in 1978, and also emerged the best student.

“The assertions in the publication are wrong and baseless and a careful check with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would have cleared this misrepresentation.

“By every measurement index, the Minister has performed outstandingly in his school work and has records to show for it,” he said.

He further stated that the ministry observed that Kachikwu’s Wikipedia page had been tampered with recently, by unknown persons, and might have been re-edited for sinister purposes.

“On the Wikipedia page that was cited in the report, it would be expedient to note that Wikipedia cannot be used as an authentic source of referencing or verification of facts.

“Considering that anybody that has access to a Wikipedia page can also edit same to suit any narrative they want to claim or push.

“To buttress this fact, we have noted that Dr. Kachikwu’s page has recently been re-edited recently by persons unknown to him and to us,” he said

Explaining the video of its presentation at the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, (COZA), cited by the report, Alibi said the substance of Kachikwu’s comment in the church was to the effect that he had a first class performance in school.

According to him, the Minister was emphasizing on the need for hard work amongst the youth to get them to the top of their game.

Alibi maintained that the official Curriculum Vitae, CV, and resume of the minister of state for petroleum resources was in the public domain and had been submitted to various levels of Government and Parastatal agencies.

He said: “Also line 6, page 3 of the document herein attached clearly states that Dr. Kachikwu obtained a “Second Class Honours (Upper Division) degree” from the Faculty of Law in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated as best student in 1978.

“In addition, no First Class Honours were awarded by UNN that year. However, he was on the list for best graduands with Second Class Upper Honours for that year.

“He was the best graduating student in the Nigerian Law School in the year 1979 (the first in class) with multiple prizes (winning five out of all seven prizes given). In 1979, the Nigerian Law School had not begun a process of classifying its certificates.

“That begun many years later; however best graduands have subsequently now been classified in the First Class category by the Law School.

“For Harvard University, his CV correctly states that he was a Distinction graduate for the Master’s degree programme (First in Class) at Harvard University and that he obtained his SJD in a record time of one and a half years.

“The various academic awards received during his education days are clearly spelt out in his CV/Resume.”

He noted that Kachikwu had worked at the highest level of the oil and gas industry globally for over three decades and indeed lectured at respectable global institutions such as University of Ife, Nigerian Law School and Harvard Law School

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N7bn: Unity Bank refutes SPIPRPP’s allegation, says claim is frivolous, unfounded

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Unity Bank Plc has faulted allegation against it by the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) that it has refused to return about N7 billion it allegedly owes the Federal Government.

The presidential panel had said in a statement on Monday that the N7bn represents the sum of $15,561,769.99 and N1,488,455,810.90), being excess and arbitrary charges on accounts of some agencies of government by the bank before the institution of Treasury Single Account. The panel further alleged that Unity Bank had agreed on the amount earlier in February, this year, but “has neither proffered a payment plan nor demonstrated good faith by actually initiating payments”.

But in a statement by Unity Bank signed by its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor on Monday, the lender denied the allegation stressing that the report of the panel is geared towards misinforming the public and misrepresenting the Bank’s position and nil impact resolutions reached during the reconciliation engagements.

 

Read the full statement below:

Unity Bank has faulted the allegation against it by Special Presidential Investigation Panel for Recovery of Public Property (SPIPRPP) over the ongoing reconciliation of the affected MDA accounts, stating that the report is geared towards misinforming the public and misrepresenting the Bank’s  position and nil impact resolutions reached during the reconciliation engagements.

In the ongoing investigation, Unity Bank has conducted itself professionally  by providing all evidence of customers’ instructions requested by the panel as it relates to all the MDAs.

Unity Bank had earlier transferred all the balances belonging MDAs to their respective TSA accounts in Central Bank of Nigeria as far back in 2016.

Upon approaching the Bank in 2018 to conduct investigations on the subject of MDAs, Unity Bank, as a responsible corporate citizen, cooperated with the panel accordingly. But out of its own volition, the panel refused to admit further documentary evidence from the Bank when it was obvious that the Bank has no balances kept in its books for the MDAs.

Instead, the panel suspended the investigation as apparently it could not fault any of the evidence presented by the Bank.

The Panel in an earlier letter requested the Bank to accept culpability and pay off a certain sum deemed outstanding which the Bank objected and insisted on completing the reconciliation exercise because the claims presented at this point against the Bank were unfounded and frivolous

It is therefore surprising for the SPIPRPP to turn back and issue a statement alleging sabotage when it abandoned its sitting and investigation midway.

Furthermore, it must be emphasized that, without prejudice to the constitutional power of Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) as the sole agency of government to investigate,  review, reconcile and collect revenue for government,  the bank co-operated fully with SPIPRPP and its consultants in the investigation process and it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Unity Bank has all records to show that it does its banking transactions transparently and in compliance with extant banking regulations and at no time took charges on the MDAs that were outside what is contained in the Bankers Tariffs, which guide banking operations in Nigeria.

The bank therefore maintains that the allegations of SPIPRPP, are superfluous, frivolous ill-motivated and unfounded as falsely presented in a press statement purportedly sent to the public.

We hereby call on our customers and the general public to disregard the allegations which is subterfuge aimed to unnecessarily smear the image of the Bank.

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NGE rejects NASS’ accreditation guidelines for journalists

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The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has rejected new guidelines for the accreditation of media organisations, journalists/correspondents covering the National Assembly, describing it as primitive, undemocratic and blatantly anti-press and anti-people.

The guidelines issued by authorities of the National Assembly (NASS) is due to become effective from June 11 2019.

It demands, among other draconian provisions, that a media organisation wishing to be accredited for coverage of NASS activities should submit a copy of its income tax return for the last two years.

Other requirements include “presentation of evidence of certificate of incorporation of the media organisation, evidence of membership of professional bodies for the journalists, maintenance of a functional Bureau in Abuja (staff strength not less than 5 Editorial staff) and daily circulation of 40,000 copies for the print media with evidence to support the claimed circulation figure.”

Finding the guidelines  vexatious, disrespectful and Draconian, and a scurrilous attempt to gag the press in a democracy, the Guild said it cannot stand.

“These guidelines run contrary to the grains of reason, democratic ideals and they are a clear affront on the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution which empowers journalists to freely practice their profession without any gag, muzzling and restriction.

“The NASS guidelines negate the constitutional principle of freedom of expression and run contrary to the African Charter on fundamental rights and the right of the people to know. The Guild strongly objects to these guidelines in their entirety as they serve no public good except the myopic interest of its chroniclers and purveyors.

“The Guild is disappointed that the same 8th National Assembly which benefited immensely from free press in its moments of trial has turned round to put the same press in shackles and chains. We reject this crude abrasion of our constitutional rights to freely disseminate information. It cannot stand,” the Guild said.

The Guild strongly urged all media houses across the nation to rise up and reject the medieval intrusion into the media space in the 21st century, much more in a democracy which Nigerian media doggedly fought for and for which some journalists paid the supreme price.

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FG declares May 29, June 12 public holidays

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Nigerian Government has declared May 29 and June 12 as public holidays to mark the transition to a new government and Democracy Day respectively.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohamed, disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.

Mohammed said that most of the activities formerly performed on May 29 as Democracy Day have been moved to June 12 and that the events slated for May 29, would be low key.

He said world leaders will only attend the June 12 events.

Until June 6, 2018, the Democracy Day was held annually on May 29, the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999, marking the beginning of the longest continuous civilian rule since Nigeria’s independence from colonial rule in 1960.

It is a tradition that has been held annually, beginning in the year 2000.

On June 6, 2018, eight days after May 29, 2018, had been celebrated as Democracy Day, the President Buhari-led government of Nigeria declared June 12 to be the new Democracy Day.

Prior to the government’s declaration, Nigeria Senate last week passed the Public Holiday Act Amendment Bill to recognise June 12 as the country’s Democracy Day.

The bill was passed almost one year after Buhari announced that June 12 would replace May 29 for Nigerians to commemorate the return of democratic.

Although a few lawmakers protested the change in date of Democracy Day, it was, however, approved after a majority of the lawmakers supported passage of the bill.

The passage of the bill means the amendment to the Public Holiday Act has been effected in concurrence with the House of Representatives.

With the assent granted to the bill by President Buhari, Nigeria will observe May 29 and June 12 as public holidays annually.

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